Vaccine advancement

Announced on October 6th by the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), the UK Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has now approved the second of two GMP manufacturing suites that house VMIC’s specialist vaccines manufacturing equipment - resulting in two fully equipped, approved manufacturing suites to make a leading Covid-19 vaccine candidate.


As part of the national response to develop vaccine for Covid-19, the two suites established with VMIC equipment will be operating at 1000L scale and will be dedicated to the manufacture of a leading Covid-19 viral vector vaccine candidate. The suites, operated by Oxford Biomedica, are located in their commercial manufacturing centre, Oxbox, in Oxford, UK.

Supported by government funding through UK Research and Innovation, the collaboration between VMIC and Oxford Biomedica signed in June 2020 enabled the UK to establish a rapid deployment centre or ‘Virtual VMIC’ whilst the permanent VMIC facility was being built. The aim being to rapidly build capability in the UK to manufacture a vaccine for Covid-19 rather than wait until VMIC’s permanent facility opens in 2021.

Dr Matthew Duchars, Chief Executive, The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre, said: “This is a milestone moment in the UK’s fight against Covid-19. These suites, which house VMIC equipment, will have the ability to make tens of millions of doses of the current leading vaccine candidate.”

Pic Courtesy of Pall Corp

From scrap to powder
6K and 6K Additive, the world’s leading developer of microwave plasma technology for the production of advanced materials, has been awarded a Phase ll SBIR program from the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), following the strong success of its Phase I. The Phase II program supports the development and commercialization of a domestic and commercially scalable supply chain for strategic high performance metal powders from scrap sources. Utilizing 6K’s proprietary UniMelt microwave plasma platform, the program will demonstrate 6K’s capability to source, process, and reclaim nickel superalloy scrap components, shop scrap, and used powders for conversion into aerospace grade powders. The new powders will be used to additively manufacture real-world, discrete printed parts which will demonstrate functionality in test beds or systems.

Dr. Aaron Bent, CEO of 6K, commented: “As a company we are certainly pleased with the award, but more importantly, we’re proud as an organization to help our country create and control a domestic supply for alloys such as nickel used for emerging production methods like additive manufacturing. The recent Covid-19 pandemic highlights the importance of controlling supply chain and the renewed need for domestic production to avoid interruption of critical supplies.”

6K has recently commissioned its new 40,000 square foot state-of-the-art metal powder production facility and will begin shipping traditional powder products in the fall of 2020.

 

Vital equipment
Bluetree Group, has taken delivery of England’s very first meltblown machines. This ground-breaking move means the business can create the vital bacterial filtration layer of its face masks, or ‘meltblown’, in-house.

As the Covid-19 outbreak has progressed, meltblown has become one of the scarcest materials in the world, with many countries banning its export. Installation of two of the machines at the company’s Rotherham factory will enable the team to produce 100 tonnes of meltblown each month and provide the country with a constant and reliable source of surgical face masks.

Capsule investment
Leading global provider of integrated healthcare solutions, Lonza, has invested $93m in its Capsules and Health Ingredients (CHI) Division to enable the company to expand its overall production capacity of capsules within CHI’s Capsugel portfolio by 30 billion capsules annually. Production capacity will be increased across Lonza’s global manufacturing and supply chain network to help further strengthen the company’s position as a leading global supplier of capsules. This investment will be made over two fiscal years, 2020 and 2021, across eight global Lonza manufacturing sites, including Greenwoo

NHS support
PFF Packaging Group has been selected by the UK Department for Health and Social Care to manufacture disposable aprons to supply the NHS with the much-needed PPE. The contract will see the business produce over 360 million plastic aprons across a nine-month period, from its manufacturing site in Washington, Tyne and Wear.

Kenton Robbins, Group Managing Director commented: “PFF was quick to recognise that we have the in-house production, quality control and logistical expertise to accommodate the new line. Some 210 million plastic aprons are needed every week by NHS frontline and social care staff. With production well underway, we feel we really are making a difference. PFF is proud to be helping the NHS as well as creating opportunities for work in these most challenging of times.”

Green delivery
Global provider of transport and logistics solutions XPO Logistics has invested in purchasing ten additional mega-trucks and 280 semi-trailers in Spain, strengthening its eco-friendly fleet capacity. Mega-trucks have the potential to reduce carbon emissions by up to 20 per cent compared with traditional trucks, as each 25.25-metre vehicle is able to transport 65 per cent more freight per trip.

Commenting on the deal, Massimo Marsili, managing director, transport – Iberia, XPO Logistics, said “We’re proud to be a green transport leader in Spain, where our commitment to reduce emissions serves our customers and helps to protect the planet. Our fleet investments integrate the latest innovations into our operations, allowing us to grow the business while delighting our customers and contributing to a greener future for freight transport.”

XPO will use its 25 mega-trucks to cover routes in its less-than-truckload (LTL) network, expanding service between Valencia and Malaga, Barcelona and Madrid, and Seville and Granada. The company is a leader in LTL pallet transport in Spain, with over five million pallets delivered in 2019.

The new semi-trailers will be used for full truckload and LTL service across the Iberian Peninsula and Morocco. Each 13.6-metre unit has the capacity to transport up to 25 tonnes of freight using best-in-class transport technology for safety and efficiency. The expansion increases XPO’s semi-trailer fleet to approximately 2400 units.

Driving Industry 4.0
AT&T has added Nokia’s end-to-end industrial-grade capabilities to its AT&T Private Cellular Networks solutions. Now businesses across the United States can build private networks through AT&T using Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum and Nokia infrastructure. Both Nokia Digital Automation Cloud and Modular Private Wireless platforms will be offered by AT&T.

Raghav Sahgal, President of Nokia Enterprise, said: “We have a long and storied relationship with AT&T, and now we’re tapping into our joint enterprise expertise to help businesses realize the Industry 4.0 opportunity. Nokia is a leader in private wireless deployments, giving us tremendous insights into the challenges and requirements for deploying this technology across multiple industries. We look forward to working with the AT&T team to bring these insights to businesses.”

Private networks are increasingly important for businesses – especially in Industry 4.0 environments with a lot of connected devices, where privacy, data control and performance are all crucial. AT&T’s on-premises edge portfolio, which already includes 5G-capable AT&T Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC), is expanding to offer these additional private cellular solutions with Nokia to meet those Industry 4.0 needs.

This is a great solution for enterprise customers – including manufacturing, logistics, energy and education – that want to use CBRS LTE private wireless solutions as part of their networking strategy. It can support enterprises in building a more agile business that keeps pace with shifting demand, accelerates digital transformation, and unlocks new IoT opportunities with reliable and predictable connectivity for people, machines and sensors.